[21-Jul-2018 10:04:40 CST6CDT] PHP Fatal error: Class 'Walker_Nav_Menu' not found in /home/jenni123/public_html/wp-content/themes/hwtm/lib/functions/walker.php on line 14 [21-Jul-2018 10:04:47 CST6CDT] PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined function add_filter() in /home/jenni123/public_html/wp-content/themes/hwtm/lib/functions/html.php on line 22 [21-Jul-2018 10:05:29 CST6CDT] PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined function remove_filter() in /home/jenni123/public_html/wp-content/themes/hwtm/lib/functions/util.php on line 48 [21-Jul-2018 10:06:12 CST6CDT] PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined function add_action() in /home/jenni123/public_html/wp-content/themes/hwtm/lib/functions/slider.php on line 33 [21-Jul-2018 10:06:45 CST6CDT] PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined function add_action() in /home/jenni123/public_html/wp-content/themes/hwtm/lib/functions/wordpress.php on line 80 Back to School Party Design Challenge // Hostess with the Mostess®

Theme Parties 08.21.12

The Look For Less: Back to School Party Design Challenge

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back to school
back to school sweets table with space themed sweets

{HWTM contributor Tonya Coleman of Soireé Event Design here!} In this month’s post, I challenged my friend, Michelle Burt, owner of Maddycakes Muse (a DIY craft blog) to join me in bringing you not just one, but TWO “Budget Chic” parties!


We both had just one week to use $100 to pull together our Budget Chic “Back to School” party design for four guests while shopping in just one store. Michelle chose to shop in Dollar Tree and I chose to shop in Target. We could interpret the “Back to School” theme any way we wanted! It’s so exciting to see what creative ideas two different designers with two different styles and specialties come up with when given the same challenge! Be sure to go to the end of the post to see our budget breakdown.


Michelle created a Back to School “School is a Blast!” Theme where she incorporated space elements to create a really cool and fun party! Michelle says, “I had no idea what direction I was going for the Back to School challenge until I saw the Planet Wall stickers at Dollar Tree. I immediately thought of “School is a Blast!” as my theme.

And that’s ironic, because the same thing happened to me while in Target. I came across a notebook that had drawings all over it and thought about my 9 year old daughter who draws constantly… and knew right away a Back to School “Doodle Party” would be my theme!

back to school party with a spaceship theme


THEME 1: “School is a Blast” from Maddycakes Muse

*(as explained by Michelle)

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

– Metallic Space Dessert Table with tin foil “moon rocks”
– Kids Table DIY Rocket Ships
– Schultute School Cone Favors
– DIY Activity: Blue Moon Sand
– Creative treats like “rocket rolls” & “Saturn rings”


For the dessert table, I wanted to create the moon with a rocket ship blasting off. I love to challenge myself not only in being frugal but also doing things that I haven’t seen before. I tried and tried to think what could I use to create the moon then it hit me… aluminum foil! I tore strips and bunched them up like moon rocks and kept all display items silver to blend in to “moon” rocks. I took large rocks from my fountain and spray painted them silver. I like them because they had craters just like the moon. I have tons of display items but wanted to use items that are commonly found in every home or things you can get very inexpensively.

back to school sweets table with space themed sweets

The backdrop consists of Dollar Store stars and the wording is poster board. It is simply double sticked taped to a black curtain I owned. I didn’t have the right color poster board so I simply spray painted the letters silver. The rocket is made out of foil, poster board, blue cellophane and red plastic tablecloth for fire. Just use your imagination and you can have an interesting and coordinated dessert table using all store bought items.

The alien cake is an $8 store bought cake that I embellished to look like an alien space ship with Life Savers, gumdrops and a pretzel stick. I “borrowed” my daughter’s alien and put inside a pickle jar to look like the alien is in his ship. The cake display stand is a large can of beans with the label peeled off and topped with an upside down pie plate.

blast off alien dessert table

The moon rocks are donut holes with sprinkles. I already owned the silver candle holder. I thought it was great to use for height. I love to use unconventional display items. I always say shop your house first! The rocket rolls are Swiss Rolls with Hershey kisses on topped. I used melted almond bark as “glue”. I used a foil lined cookie sheet to display.

rocket rolls and saturn rings

The alien eyes are Oreos dipped in melted almond bark with gummy Life Savers and fondant eyes that I had left over from a monster party. The “Marsh”ians are just marshmallows dipped in colored candy melts with sprinkles for hair and same leftover fondant eyes. I used a turned over disposable aluminum pan for this display. The Saturn rings are Fruit Loops in a pie pan.


The pencil box is being used as the lunch box. It consisted of a sandwich, GoGurt, fruit snacks, cheese stick and a Wet Wipe. I made a rocket crayon holder with paper towel roll, red card stock, silver duct table and cut a red plastic table cloth into strips for fire. It is held up by a pencil and blasting off from the World Globe. Kids can color or practice writing their names on the school house placemat. I already had the vintage Rocket lunch box which was the perfect centerpiece.

space theme kids table
space lunch box


For the party favors, I used a large party hat and filled it with school supplies just like a Schultute School cone. A schultute is a German tradition where a child is given a cone on their first day of school filled with sweets, trinkets and back to school supplies.


Each child received a plastic tub and ingredients to make their own moon sand.To make your own Moon Sand:

– 2 cups of play sand (My sand was blue but you can use any kind or color of sand.)
– 1 cup of corn starch
– 1/2 cup of water (You may need more water if too dry.)
– Mix together. Viola Moon sand!


THEME 2:  “Doodle Party” Theme from Soireé Event Design:

I created this party with my daughter and her 3 BFF’s in mind! They are going into 4th grade this year and am sure any kid (boy or girl) would LOVE this theme! Who wouldn’t want to Doodle on everything! I totally scored in the $1 section of Target and since it’s back to school season… major sales on all the school supplies!

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

– Leftover fabric initials with individualized post-it notes for chairback decor
– DIY Cake Pop Bar using silly straws as sticks
– Plate inlay printables with each girl’s name on them that served as placecards
– Favors that double as back to school supplies will make all the moms happy!


Pulling together this table was so much fun! I had a piece of fabric leftover from another party that I knew would be the perfect look to tie in the “Doodle” concept and give the table a punch of color! I created personalized chairback decor by hanging a magnetic locker sign embellished with each girl’s initial and post-it note with an inspiring note.

doodle party back to school theme

I custom-designed the party’s printables by scanning the front of the Doodle notebook that inspired this theme and used it as the design’s background. I found the perfect black and white patterned boxes to use to hold my blinged out Lolli-tags™ that had each girl’s name on them and filled with colored pencils. To pull in the “doodle” look, I put the tags on crazy straws! In addition, I designed plate inlay printables with each girl’s name on them that served as placecards. So easy to do: place the inlay in between two plates. Just be sure the top plate is clear. I used dry-erase lined paper boards as placemats for the girls to doodle on while they waited for lunch. Beside each plate is a pencil holder that held their utensils and napkin. Everything on the table except for the sign doubled as take-home favors for each girl… which makes cleanup a breeze!

doodle party theme with a silly straw centerpiece


Instead of a sweets bar, I decided to design a favor bar stocked with school supplies that each girl could take home. As with my sweets bar designs, I color coordinated all the favors to match the party theme and displayed them in black crates that each girl used to take home all party goodies! A great alternative to favor bags. The Doodle notebooks were customized with a Lolli-tag™ printable on a crazy straw with each girl’s name that was hot glued to the front of the notebook. A great way to create a one-of-a-kind, personal favor!

doodle party favors

doodle party favor


The girls LOVED drawing and doodling all over this wall. Just mount up foam core boards to any wall with removeable tape, put out markers and let the girls create their magic! I have the girls do this when they first arrive so that their masterpiece can be displayed during the party which is a great decor element!

doodle wall

TIP: You can do this also with banner paper, but be sure to use crayons instead of markers to prevent leak-thru to the wall.


On the invitation, ask each girl to bring a plain t-shirt with them for this activity. You can also provide them with t-shirts if budget allows. Put out some fabric markers and the girls can create their own unique Doodle T-shirts that they can take home. Put some sidewalk chalk outside and the let the girls “Doodle” up the sidewalk. A HUGE HIT!

doodle party sidewalk chalk


The girls LOVED this! Bake your own red velvet cake balls with a cake pop maker and use crazy straws instead of dessert sticks to hold them. Melt down the candy melts on the stove then place it in the crock pot and let the girls dip and decorate their own cake pops. I put the sprinkles in stackable school supply containers. Super easy and so yummy!

TIP: You can also buy these from your cake pop baker. Just ask for plain, uncoated cake pops.

cake pop bar




Kids Table: $12
4 pencil boxes: $4
4 world globes: $4
red plastic tablecloth: $1
tablecloth embellished with planet stickers: $1
paper school houses: $1
pencils: $1

Dessert Table: $37
aluminum foil: $3
2 pie pans: $2
cookie sheet: $1
3 poster board sheets: $3
stars: $1
blue cellophane: $1
store bought cake: $8
fruit loops cereal: $3.50
Oreo cookies: $2.50
marshmallows: $1
Swiss Rolls: $2
donut holes: $2
almond bark: $3
candy: $4

Favors: $23
4 party hats: $4
school supplies: $19

Activity: $13
sand: $8
cornstarch: $1
4 plastic tubs: $4

Grand Total: $85


Kid Table: $23
4 b&w paper clip boxes: $4 ($1 each)
4 boxes colored pencils: $2 (49¢ each)
1 pack stickers: $1
4 pencil cases: $4 ($1 each)
4 magnetic locker boards: $4
4 magnetic letters: $4 ($1 each)
4 dry erase boards: $4 ($1 each)
plates, frame, crazy straws & fabric tablecloth (I already owned)

Cake Pop Bar: $4
1 box red velvet cake mix: $2
2 twist storage containers: $2 ($1 each)
candy melts, sprinkles, crazy straws & mini crock pot (I already owned)

Activities: $16.50
3 foam core poster boards: $10.50 ($3.50 each)
2 b&w paper clip boxes: $2 ($1 each)
4 boxes markers: $2 (49¢ each)
2 packs sidewalk chalk: $2 ($1 each)
tablecloth, frame & fabric markers (I already owned)
t-shirts (girls brought their own)

Favor Bar: $56
2 b&w doodle boxes: $2 ($1 each)
4 satin supply pouches: $8 ($2 each)
4 packs of stickers: $4 ($1 each)
4 metal locker containers: $4 ($1 each)
4 sunglasses: $4 ($1 each)
4 ponytail holder lolipops: $4 ($1 each)
2 packs of glitter pencils: $4 ($2 each)
4 composition books: $4 ($1 each)
4 spiral notebooks: $10 ($2.50 each)
4 plastic crates: $12 ($3 each)
door hanger & tablecloth (I already owned)

Grand Total: $99.50



Thank you so much Michelle for participating in this challenge with me! I hope we have inspired you to throw your own Back to School themed parties!

For more Look for Less Budget Chic tips, visit Soireé Event Design’s blog, The Girlfriend’s Guide to Party Planning. And for more of Maddycake Muse’s DIY Craft tutorials and inspiration, visit her blog, Maddycakes Muse.

We’d LOVE to hear from you! Please comment below on what your favorite part was from either or both of the designs!

POSTED BY:tonyaTONYA COLEMAN is a busy mother of 4 that ”LOVE LOVE LOVES” design & events! She has more than 10 years of experience in the entertainment business with a very successful graphic design studio & has been designing events for the past 5 years.

23 responses to “The Look For Less: Back to School Party Design Challenge”

  1. Aupair says:

    This is awesome stuff! Both ideas are awesome and so creative!!!! So many great ideas.

  2. MonogrammedEverything!!! says:

    This is super cute and affordable!

  3. Shawna says:

    both are fabulous–just like you two! Thank you both for all of the inspiration too fun!!

  4. Thanks to Maddycakes Muse for taking this challenge with me! I LOVE the use of aluminum foil on your dessert table! GENIUS…I may have to use this!

  5. JoEllen Johnson says:

    WOW! Both are impressive – creative and affordable. Michelle – I love the way you completely transformed Dollar Tree items. You never cease to amaze me.

  6. Adrien Foreman says:

    Very nice!

  7. Kelly Forrest says:

    I absolutely love how everything in the doodle party is personalized for each guest. And the graphics and printables make it look so professional and polished. I truly can’t believe the budget was only $100!!!

  8. I LOVE “school is a blast!!” so creative and I bet I even find everything in my house already-even better:)!! Love the moon sand activity too…. Gotta try that one:)

  9. […] who doesn’t even like cake!) When designing this month’s “Doodle Party” for HWTM’s Look for Less post, I wanted to come up with an interactive activity for kids to do around cake pops! I already […]

  10. Sharon says:

    I love the Doodle Wall..that was my favorite from Soirée …and I really enjoyed the Oreo Aliens from Michelle at Maddy Cakes…Where do I vote?

  11. Michelle Burt says:

    Tonya you are the bomb! I wish I had your graphic skills!

  12. Sharon Mczeal says:

    I just love the colorful, creative Doodle Party…Great fun for the kids!

  13. […] and shopping in one store! I chose to shop in Target. (no surprise there) If you missed the post, click here to see it for lots of […]

  14. […] DUTY as a unique sweet treat for each guest AND a party activity! A few months ago I styled a Doodle Party that would go perfectly with this! Click here to see all the “Doodle Party” photos. […]

  15. It’s Back To School Time! | Sensational Soirees | BLOG says:

    […]   Back to School Party Themes and Activities from HWTM […]

  16. $100 Back To School Party Challenge | Maddycakes Muse says:

    […] different styles and creative processes. To see both parties head over to Hostess with the Mostess HERE! Make sure to go to the end of the post to see our budget breakdown at the end of the HWTM […]